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Discrimination, or not?

In this story, an atheist organization was denied participation in a St. Patrick's Day Parade, because of their "godless" status.

I think this reeks of discrimination, but what do you think?  Do you think that the committee had grounds for refusing the atheist group on the grounds that they are neither Irish or Catholic?

Here's the story, as reported by a local news station.

Atheist group denied participating in St. Patrick’s parade

Posted on: 10:04 pm, March 11, 2013, by , updated on: 10:10pm, March 11, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Denied participation in the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day parade, one group says it’s discrimination.

“There’s so many misconceptions about what the word Atheist really means and what Atheist really believe.”

The Kansas City Atheist Coalition said in February they turned in an application to walk in Sunday’s St. Patrick’s day parade. When they were denied, they say they were shocked.

This is the first time the Atheist Coalition has applied to participate in the parade. They point out that the parade’s website clearly states it’s open to all, Irish or not, Catholic or not. But the group says they were turned down for exactly that reason, discrimination based on personal religious beliefs.

“The idea that they are presenting now that this is a very Catholic event and they were celebrating the patron saint and his christian legacy, I think makes for a good response but I don’t think that’s their reason. I think people on the parade committee are personally offended by Atheist in a similar way that there are people in this country that are offended at the existence of people who are gay,” said Sarah Hargreaves, a member of Kansas City Atheist Coalition.

She says, “We call that discrimination.”

The parade committee did not respond to our request for a statement. But the Atheist Coalition showed us the statement denying participation in the parade.

In it, the parade committee said the Atheist Coalition’s published mission is to advance godlessness through activism. And it was with respect for the legacy of St. Patrick, the parade committee turned down the application.

Answer Question

Asked by jsbenkert at 7:55 PM on Mar. 12, 2013 in Religious Debate

Level 37 (89,331 Credits)
Answers (18)
  • oh please. it's a public parade held in public streets for the public to come view. we all know its about leprechauns and beer and has absolutely nothing to do with saints, catholics or religion at all.

    in my city, our catholic church hosts its own st patty's day festival. i could understand, under those circumstances, atheists being denied marching in the parade because it is specifically held by the catholic church. but in the case mentioned above, it's organized by the city of kansas city. totally not the same thing and yes, in my book, discrimination.

    Answer by tnm786 at 8:03 PM on Mar. 12, 2013

  • Unless it's a private parade run by private citizens who pay for permits to block off the streets, yes, it's discrimination

    Answer by NotPanicking at 8:05 PM on Mar. 12, 2013

  • It might be discrimination, but St. Patrick's Day parades have a long history of non-inclusion. In Boston, a gay and lesbian group wanted to march in a parade and were denied by the veteran's group that ran the parade. They went to court, the lower courts all ruled in favor of the glbt group. When it go to the supreme court they we unanimously ruled against.

    "The United States Supreme Court, in a rare 9-0 decision, ruled that parades are protected under the First Amendment, and as such, the state could not compel organizers to include groups with messages the organizers disfavored. Justice Souter, writing for the Court, noted, 'The state court's application [of the public accommodation law] however, had the effect of declaring the sponsor's speech itself to be the public accommodation.'"

    So I don't think the athiests stand a chance here.


    Answer by tessiedawg at 8:07 PM on Mar. 12, 2013

  • if they allow any non-Irish non-Catholic floats & its a state/city run parade then yep, its discrimination.

    and last time i checked St Paddy's Day for the majority of Americans is about corned beef, wearing green, and drinking beer. it has very little to do with St. Patrick or Ireland.

    Answer by okmanders at 8:17 PM on Mar. 12, 2013

  • Wow, tessiedawg.  That's sad.


    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 8:27 PM on Mar. 12, 2013

  • I agree that it's discrimination, and ridiculous besides. It's a public parade which, as others have said, is all about green beer and leprechauns. If it were truly some kind of a religious event honoring St. Patrick, or Catholicism, then I could see disallowing any group that didn't fit those criteria, but a public city parade is not such an event.

    Answer by Ballad at 8:45 PM on Mar. 12, 2013

  • I agree OP, I agree.

    Answer by tessiedawg at 8:48 PM on Mar. 12, 2013

  • Who is the sponsor fo the parade? In St, Louis it is the City of St. Louis and all are welcome, but not all St. Patty's paraes are put on/ sponsored by the city.
    It would make a difference to my opinion.

    Answer by Dardenella at 10:48 PM on Mar. 12, 2013

  • Dard, I was looking for that information (but not diligently).  I'll see what I can find.


    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 11:03 PM on Mar. 12, 2013

  • I'd want to know who is sponsoring it as well. It does reek of discrimination since it clearly states it is open to all.

    Since it is open to one and all, do they let the Klan and WBC in?

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 11:23 PM on Mar. 12, 2013

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